What to Do About Tooth Pain and When to Call a Dentist
Handle your tooth pain with ease.
Without treatment, a toothache can quickly turn into a dental emergency. From anxiety to trouble sleeping, and from bleeding gums to chronic infections, tooth pain can be detrimental to everyday life.
Do you have tooth pain and are unsure why or what to do next? Whether it’s mild or severe, this guide will tell you what you need to know about tooth pain.
Tooth Pain Causes
Even though oral diseases affect almost 3.5 billion people worldwide, most oral health issues are preventable and can be treated easily in their early stages. If you have constant tooth pain, the first thing to do is to identify the pain spot and figure out the source. Let’s take a look at some of the most common tooth pain causes.
Periodontal Disease (also known as gum disease) is the most common cause of bleeding gums. It can also cause them to be red, swollen, and painful.
Damaged teeth are another reason for constant tooth pain. Only baby teeth should fall out on their own. If yours were knocked loose, a dentist will have to take a look to determine whether the pain will go away, if an infection has developed, or if the tooth is dead and needs to be replaced.
Tooth decay happens when bacteria make their way into your tooth and fester. The minor stage of tooth decay is a cavity. Cavities aren’t typically painful unless they make significant progression. If that bacteria has time to infect the pulp of your tooth and it becomes abscessed, you’ll likely suffer from an extreme pulsating toothache.
Malocclusion, an uneven bite, can cause soreness in both your jaw and your teeth.
Some of the time, tooth pain has nothing to do with oral health. For example, when your jaw or cranium is overused, those muscles can become sore. Sometimes people mistakenly identify that pain with a toothache. Cluster headaches can also lead to tooth pain. Sinus infections can cause tooth pain because the sinuses are located near the back of the mouth. A lack of vitamin B12 is said to cause tooth pain, and certain nerve conditions can also cause persistent and sharp pain in one’s mouth.
What are your symptoms?
Do you have throbbing teeth or a sudden toothache? Here are some common symptoms associated with the many causes of tooth pain:
- Throbbing around a tooth, as if you can feel your heartbeat pulsing in that area
- Generalized pain
- Irritated, red gums
- Bleeding gums when you brush
- Pain biting down on foods
- Fever and chills (typically due to serious infection)
- Sudden, sharp pain, as if your tooth or gums are being stabbed with a sharp object
- Discharge around the irritated areas of your gums
In most cases, a toothache is an indication you have an issue for a dentist to address. For certain symptoms, there are some things to try at home before calling in for an emergency visit.
At-Home Treatments and Tests for Tooth Pain
If you can’t see a dentist right away, or you’re trying to determine the cause of pain first, here are some remedies you can try at home while you wait to see your doctor.
Analyze the hot and cold reactions. Some people have sensitive teeth. When you experience a toothache as a result of something hot or cold, how long does it linger? If your teeth are throbbing for hours after being exposed to hot or cold and a simple OTC medicine doesn’t nip that pain in the bud, then it’s time to call your dentist. It’s normal to have some sensitivity after a filling too, but if it comes out of nowhere or doesn’t go away after a few days, it’s always best to check in with your doctor.
Floss your teeth twice a day. Sometimes a piece of food that’s lodged in the gumline can cause tooth pain. Try to see if floss provides any relief or releases anything that’s been causing discomfort.
Do a saltwater rinse. Take a warm glass of water and add a tablespoon of salt. Rinse your mouth, and the solution will help to draw out fluids if your gums are infected (while you wait to see your doctor).
Take medication for your pain. Ibuprofen or acetaminophen are effective options for treating tooth pain until you can get to see your dentist. You could also try a cold compress to help reduce inflammation and calm the nerves in your teeth.
Here are some additional self-care tips for practicing a healthy lifestyle while you’re at home.
When to Call for an Emergency
Are your gums bleeding excessively when you brush? Occasional bleeding can come from brushing your teeth too hard or wearing dentures that don’t fit properly. Frequent gum bleeding, however, can indicate periodontitis, an advanced form of gum disease. Only your dentist will know how far it has advanced. Frequent gum bleeding can also indicate leukemia.
Do you have a loose tooth? If you’re an adult, you shouldn’t, and the faster you see your doctor, the better chance you have of fixing the issue.
Do you have an infection? If you’re experiencing discharge, swelling of the gums or face, and severe pain, don’t ever wait to see your dentist, as an infection or abscess could be indicative of a life-threatening emergency.
Severe bleeding, a lost tooth, and severe pain are all reasons to see the doctor immediately.
Don’t wait to address your tooth pain!
While there are some things you can try at home to alleviate a toothache, most tooth pain causes are reasons enough to call your dentist. A lot of the time, treating any issue as a dental emergency will work in your favor, as many oral health issues can be easily treated during early detection.
Do you have tooth pain and are unsure if it constitutes a dental emergency? Don’t hesitate to contact us! Please call us for any dental-related questions or emergencies. We are now open so don’t forget to schedule your routine appointments. We’re here for you and miss your beautiful smiles!